Concern that police crackdown to tackle public health emergency will disproportionately affect vulnerable people
Eating a kebab on a bench, washing car windscreens at an intersection or sitting in a stationary car – these are just some of the reasons more than 50 people have been fined by police in New South Wales and Victoria for violating new coronavirus laws.
Sweeping new laws introduced to slow the number of people infected with the virus have reshaped Australian society in the past fortnight, imposing an unprecedented crackdown on public movement and curtailing civil liberties.
But while governments and police agencies say the laws are necessary given the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus, justice advocates warn the laws could have damaging consequences for traditionally over-policed communities.
Thanks to a string of public health orders issued by health ministers across Australia, police in most states now have the power to fine or arrest people caught gathering in groups of more than two or for being outside of their homes without a “reasonable excuse”.
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